Mumbai: After a successful soft landing on Moon’s South Pole last Wednesday August, 23, 2023, India’s unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayan-3, completed a week.
Simultaneously, Pragyan rover which docked on the lunar surface from the Vikram lander also spent a week on the Moon.
A week’s stay on the lunar surface means, Pragyan rover has another week left to stay on Moon before its two-week or 14-day scheduled mission is likely to end.
The Pragyaan rover and Vikram lander have been designed to study the Moon’s surface for a single lunar day which is equivalent to approximately 14 Earth days.
The current lunar day started on August 23, 2023. After 14 Earth days, the lunar day concludes, and the Moon will experience night for the following 14-15 Earth days. The temperature will plummet to -180 degrees Celsius.
Consequently, the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover will be unable to operate in the lunar environment as both of them are solar-powered.
Scientists believe that it is possible for the mission to exceed this timeframe and reactivate when the second lunar day starts and it is once again exposed to sunlight.
If the systems manage to survive until the next lunar day, the rover could potentially resume its exploration, as suggested by ISRO Chief S Somanath.
However, this will become clear only after the lunar night ends and ISRO scientists check on the lander and rover's systems.
Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission is not designed for a return journey to Earth. Once the exploration concludes, the equipment will be left on the Moon.
The Pragyan rover had on Sunday August 27, 2023 hit an obstacle. It is however now safely continuing exploration on the lunar surface.
“On August 27, 2023, the Rover came across a 4-meter diameter crater positioned 3 meters ahead of its location. The Rover was commanded to retrace the path. It's now safely heading on a new path”, ISRO said in the latest Chandrayaan-3 update.
Meanwhile, the scientific instruments on Pragyan rover and Vikram lander will continue studying the Moon's geology, assess its potential water resources, and evaluate its suitability for future human exploration.
The Pragyan rover has so far found elements on the Moon including Aluminium (Al), Sulphur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Chromium (Cr), Titanium (Ti), Manganese (Mn), Silicon (Si), and Oxygen (O).
The results are important because Chandrayaan 3 will advance in its hunt for water on the moon if it successfully discovers the hydrogen it is looking for.
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